Handling the Decontamination of Soil and Water After Flooding

Avoid the Hazards of Contaminated Soil and Water

Flooding is becoming more of an issue today than it had been in decades, due to increased rates of urbanization (and associated impenetrable land surfaces), decreased biodiversity in rural areas, and general increase in extreme weather events that cause flooding. Floods cause not only terrible damage to property through mold, wood rot, and disintegrated wall boards, but floodwaters also bring along mud, soil, insects and other small animals, and even refuse. These parts of floodwaters invading a property often bring with them water contamination and soil contamination, defined as any substance (chemical, mineral, or otherwise) in the water or soil that exceeds naturally-occurring levels and puts people using that water or soil at a health risk. Knowing how to handle the decontamination process one flooding, one of the leading causes of water pollution as well as soil pollution, is integral to ensuring your property remains environmentally safe and healthy.

Soil contamination

When floodwaters bring a degree of soil contamination, a number of different decontamination techniques can be deployed by environmental and construction management companies:

  • Contaminated soil can be directly removed, however taking this approach can be extremely costly and time intensive, not to mention the issue of finding a safe location to which the contaminated soil can be moved.
  • One of the best mitigation strategies for soil contamination is using the selective deployment of certain types of plants that have a knack for extracting specific chemical contaminants from the soil, which gradually reduce the soil contamination until it is safe for humans. This technique is known as phyto-remediation, while mushrooms (myco-remediation) or even bacteria (bio-venting) can also be used by experts in the field.
  • Environmentally impacted soil can also be put through stabilization, which is when chemicals are added to the soil that bind with the contaminants and form minerals that are not harmful to health.

Water contamination

Depending on the type of water contamination, the dangerous contaminants brought to groundwater bodies can pool at the top or sink to the bottom of the water, slowly dissolving in and contaminating large bodies of water used for drinking or other necessary purposes. As groundwater can represent the only clean water source for many localities, the decontamination of these causes of water pollution are critical and can be achieved in a number of ways.

Before the water decontamination process happens, though, water contamination must be detected and measured. This process can be accomplished through well drilling, though this practice is fairly slow and expensive, and generates contaminated soil that must be disposed of properly. Alternatively, direct push technology uses large vehicles equipped with hydraulic rams and/or percussion equipment to push metal tubes deep into the ground for testing and collection of samples.

After determining the level of water contamination, environmental management services can deploy a few different decontamination strategies:

  • Thermal treatment can be used to heat contaminated groundwater to the boiling point of the contaminant so the harmful substances are converted to gases, which subsequently move through the soil to be absorbed by activated carbon or even boiled to the point that they are broken down into completely harmless elements. This type of soil heating can be accomplished through electrical resistance or steam injection.
  • Contaminated water can also be accomplished with the treatment of chemicals that degrade the contaminants chemically into harmless substances, such as carbon dioxide and water.

What the Entech Group can do for you

Partnering with the Entech Group will ensure that environmental cleanup projects are completed quickly, efficiently, and properly.  The Entech Group is experienced in the decontamination of soil and water after floods and is dedicated to assisting clients with our environmental remediation projects from start to finish. Contact the Entech Group today to discuss your environmental remediation needs.